Review Summary: Can a genre I don't usually associate myself with impress me?
I love heavy metal. I've never been to fond of psychedelic rock. I just rarely found it appealing, though it can be a good genre to chill out to. I simply found that a lot of it sounded the same. This is where "Passover" comes in. I haven't found a band, or even an album (including other Black Angels albums) that sounds anything like this. It's a real shame too. This album is brilliant from start to finish, and the fact that there's nothing like it means when it's done, it's done. Though at the same time, it's uniqueness is one of the many things that makes this not only an incredible album, but one of my all time favorite albums.
The album opens with The Black Angels's most famous song, "Young Men Dead." Like many fans of the band, this is what got me into it. I heard it on a TV advert for the video game, "Fable 3" and fell in love with it. The song is surprisingly hard for a psychedelic rock song, and being the metalhead that I am, I greatly appreciated it and this is one of the shining tracks of the album.
It also introduces us to the main focus of the album: war. Most of the songs on this LP have many themes of wars of the 1900's, most specifically the Vietnam War.
Speaking of which, the next song is titled "The First Vietnamese War." It has one of my favorite beats in the album. It's something that'll make you bob your head and move your shoulders to the rhythm. I believe the song is about the US draft, which was utilized during the Vietnam war, and how the government forced many young men to go into the military and fight a war. The Black Angels put a hell of a lot of meaning into their songs in this album, and I'm a big lyrics guy, so this is a major plus for the album.
"The Sniper At The Gates Of Heaven" is a big change from the previous, more upbeat song. This song is slower, and has a much darker tone to it. The best word to describe it is simply "badass." Though, the meaning escapes me. I think it has to do with being injured and near death on the battlefield. Overall, amazing track.
"The Prodigal Sun" opens with some odd chanting by lead singer Alex Maas. The rest of the song returns to a more upbeat tune that's more like traditional music from the genre. This song is very catchy and is something that can easily get stuck in your head.
"Black Grease" is not one of the better songs on the album. I really am not a fan of the way Maas sings this song, and I once again have yet to determine the lyrics. Not necessarily bad, but just not the best of the tracks.
"Manipulation" is one of my favorite tracks. It's extremely psychedelic and tells the tale of an evil seductress, possibly being a metaphor for something. It's beautiful lyrics, and incredible vocal work makes this a must listen track if you don't listen to the whole thing.
At last. My favorite track on the album. "Empire" is gorgeous, tragic, meaningful, and tells an incredible story. The song follows a prisoner of war and tells of his experiences from when he gets captured, to his time in the P.O.W. camp, to his eventual freedom. It is all kinds of mind blowing and no rock fan should go without listening to this.
"Better Off Alone" is an interesting song. It has some very different vocal work and very intruiging lyrics, seemingly about falling in love with some girl, but then leaving her for some reason. Very good track.
"Bloodhounds On Your Trail" is very unique to this album. It's by far the fastest paced on the entire LP. It's kind of out of place on an album of usually slow to medium tempo tracks, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It's a fantastic song overall, and it's fast pace gives it a great plus to me.
Okay, confession time. I never bothered to listen to "Call to Arms." It's 20 minute length is a real turn off to me, especially because I can hardly stomach any song that is over 8 minutes long. That alone makes me dislike the track. I greatly apologize for this.
I've said just about all that I can say about "Passover." It's stunning. I proudly consider this one of my all time favorite albums, and by far The Black Angels best album.